In Brief

Today’s back pages: Mike Ashley cashes out of Newcastle as Saudis close in on £300m deal

A round-up of the sport headlines from UK newspapers on 15 April

Saudis to buy Magpies

One story dominates the back pages and that is the news that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is close to selling the club for £300m to Amanda Staveley, a financier fronting a bid which involves Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and the Reuben Brothers. 

“Ashley cashes out” is the headline on the Daily Express, while the Daily Star’s “Flog on the Tyne” is almost identical to the Daily Mirror’s “Flog of the Tyne”. 

Describing Ashley’s 13-year spell as owner of the Magpies as “controversial”, the Mirror weighs up what the takeover will mean for long-suffering Newcastle supporters. 

“Is this the start of a journey to turn Newcastle United into contenders again or the triggering of an even more controversial chapter in the Tyneside club’s history?” declares the paper. 

“Newcastle United no longer a vehicle to promote Sports Direct. But instead used as a trophy purchase to ‘sportswash’ one of the most evil regimes in the world - hiding behind the more acceptable face of consortium head Amanda Staveley.” 

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Deferral decision

The Daily Telegraph and The Sun are two papers reporting that the English Football League (EFL) and Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have advised that clubs defer up to 25% of players’ wages in April in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The proposal is applicable to Leagues One and Two, with Championship clubs expected to make their own decisions. 

With no football likely before June, the lower leagues of English football face a period of severe financial turbulence, and in a joint statement they said the advice amounted to a “recommendation and not a directive as there are clubs who have stated no requirement to take immediate action at this time”. 

Pogba’s war of words with Souness 

“Sou are you?” is the headline in the Daily Express as the paper reports on the bizarre feud that has erupted between Paul Pogba and Graeme Souness. 

Fiery former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder Souness has never been a fan of French playmaker Pogba, labelling him “selfish”.

TV pundit Souness renewed his criticism in a recent newspaper interview, saying: “Pogba has absolutely everything to be a top player - great athleticism, super technique - but his attitude to the game is the polar opposite of mine.” 

As The Guardian reports, Pogba’s response was a withering putdown when he told the Man Utd Podcast: “I didn’t even know who he was, really… I’m not someone who watches a lot of [punditry]. I watch a lot of football but I don’t stay after the game to listen to what they say about why they did this, or why they did that. I like to focus on football.” 

The barb clearly rankled with Souness, who in conversation with Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports’s The Football Show, said: “You know the oldest saying in football comes to mind: Put your medals on the table. I’ve got a big table.” 

True, Souness did win five English First Division titles with Liverpool, and three European Cups gongs, but Pogba - still only 27 - has four Serie A winners’ medals plus the little matter of a Fifa World Cup winner’s bauble.

Today’s sport headlines

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